Podcasts You Should Listen To–Content and Inspiration
Lesson Plans on August 25 2015
Hello Teachers! We hope you’re enjoying the last couple days before school. However, as you prepare for your next batch of eager learners, you shouldn’t forget to nurture your own love of learning–even after the summer ends.
In one of our previous blogs we discussed podcasts as tools for professional development, focusing on podcasts that would provide class tips, pedagogy, and introductions to new educational tech. Today, we’d like to provide a list of podcasts related to education in a different way: content.
Each of the podcasts below is related to a specific subject matter, and often presents new angles to their subject matter in exciting and even funny ways. Teachers could use these podcasts to learn the latest facts about their subject of choice, develop new ideas and examples for their own curriculum, and even send them to their students to create a shared experience they can discuss in the classroom.
(Personally? I also liked to use them as a brain-chaser to keep my mind fresh—after 8 hours of discussing the same topic period after period, a short jaunt into the physics of superheroes was just what I needed to get excited about science again.)
So without further ado…Here’s another short list of our favorites!
Grammar Girl (Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing):
This is exactly what it says it is–‘quick and dirty’ grammar tips. While the episodes aren’t long, each one is very on-point, providing grammar tips and even explaining the origins and logic behind certain rules. An absolute must for every ELA teacher, especially one who struggles with students who have never been taught the difference between a comma and a semicolon. Try the episode titled “How a Comma Can Get You out of a Parking Ticket” for a fun introduction.
Classic Poetry Aloud:
One of the simplest podcasts on this list, Classic Poetry Aloud is an index of classic poetry read aloud for your pleasure. It’s helpful for differentiating if you’re creating a poetry unit, or would like to present an old text in a new, enriched way. The episode of Wilfred Owns’ ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ is chilling–check it out.
(And of course, ELA classes have a singular opportunity to take advantage of two very specific types of podcasts: Storytelling podcasts and review podcasts. As always, I recommend Welcome to Night Vale as a unique take on writing chapter stories and an excellent example of quality fiction writing for students to emulate. On the review end, try Bookfight! Their reviews of books are always funny, often insightful, and frequently expose me to books I’d never even heard of.)
There aren’t a lot of math podcasts, but Math Factor is one of the better ones. With an emphasis on logic and math puzzles, it’s a great way to help a teacher break away from the projector and find a new way to display different math principles. Some of their puzzles can be pretty high-level, but they’re always fun. Following the puzzle as they talk is like playing sudoku, but with helpful teachers showing you exactly how the trick is put together.
While the math topics in some episodes of this podcast may never come up in a math classroom, what it can do for the average math curriculum could be fascinating. In each episode of this podcast, host Erik Seligman approaches a real-world application of mathematics that exposes the world as a really weird, exciting place. For an example, try this episode, where Erik examines a mathematical model that proposes that human beings are getting smarter with every generation. For students who think they’ll never need math after high school, one six-minute episode could be a big wake-up call.
A History of the World in 100 Objects:
Approaching history like an archaelologist would, each episode of this podcast starts with an image, such as a coin or a vase or a credit card. Then, historians place the image in the context of the world that made it. The more recent episodes are a wonderful way to repackage history for students as a still-ongoing process (what kid thinks of 2010 as something that could already be in a history book? After all, they were alive then!). In addition, the podcast’s structure—observation, then interviews and historical background—suggests possible projects for students to engage in themselves.
The History Chicks:
Another unique approach to history, the History Chicks focus on the women of history. Each episode is centered around a female historical figure, and is basically two fun women (Beckett Graham and Susan Vollenweider) chatting about the worlds and lives of these women. Like A History of the World in 100 Objects, it discusses history as a picture of the world as it was at the time, not just a series of dates and events. Students and teachers alike will love this mix of fun discussion and female empowerment.
The Naked Scientists:
If you’re a science teacher and a fan of project-based learning, this blog will be one of your best friends. The Naked Scientists run a number of series, but all of them delve deep into the scientific world to answer questions we all (sometimes secretly) want to know the answers to. With episodes ranging from interviews with astronauts (who happen to be in space at the time!) to discussing the question “can you microwave a cockroach?”, they are one of my favorite resources for sending students to when unit projects need planning.
There’s a reason the Internet loves Neil Degrasse Tyson. His radio show about science is frank, funny, and easy to listen to, which considering his subject matter sometimes is a big deal. With guests like Bill Nye, Laurence Fishburne, and the Mythbusters, mixed in with scientists from NASA and other major scientific centers, Tyson doesn’t shy away from explaining the science in any subject—realistic or not. You want that episode about superheroes I mentioned? This is the podcast you want.
Podcasting isn’t just for the English-speaking classes! This offering provides audio podcasts specifically designed to help teach listeners the intricacies of the spanish language. The best part of this is that episodes are already differentiated—you and your students can pick and download episodes based on the classes’ current fluency, then move on to more complicated episodes as the year progresses.
Practical Money Skills:
There are some things that many adults wish had been taught in the home-ec classes of their youth: things like doing your taxes, spotting phone scams, how to properly build a credit score, and other intricacies of money management are usually pretty high on that list. For schools with life skills or home economics courses, this can be a practical resource to fill those gaps for the adults of the future.
Have a favorite podcast you’d like to share? Send it our way! Post about it in the comment section below.